The key to energy, sanity and a healthy weight: the thyroid hormone
Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) is fast becoming one of the most commonly mis-diagnosed conditions, yet its incidence is increasingly widespread. It’s not unusual for patients to be offered anti-depressants when they complain of tiredness, weight gain and feeling low, when in fact the problem stems from the thyroid.
As with all hormone imbalances, there is a knock-on effect in other areas of the body which means that seemingly unrelated symptoms are often actually rooted in the same cause.
When your thyroid hormone is deficient, your metabolism slows - which leads you to gain weight no matter how healthy your diet. Cholesterol levels can increase due to poor metabolism of fats and sluggish digestion will lead to constipation. You feel tired every day, no matter how much sleep you get and your libido may also be lowered. Body temperature can become difficult to regulate with heightened sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. Your once shiny, healthy hair will become dry and may thin or fall out and your nails will become brittle and break easily. Frequent colds or chest infections could become your new normal and muscular aches and pains will be more obvious. Fluid retention and puffiness may also occur an you may feel less able to keep up with physical and mental exercise. Thyroid deficiency can result in depression, confusion or loss of sharpness of mind.
With all this in mind, it’s pretty important to ensure our thyroid hormone works efficiently so we don’t end up struggling through life feeling like every day is a battle and blaming ourselves for eating that extra piece of cake.
It’s important to remember, however, that all of the above symptoms can be caused by other conditions and lifestyle factors, so don’t try to self-diagnose!
As thyroid imbalance can cause such an array of symptoms that creep up on us slowly over time, it’s important to work with a professional to get to the root cause of the problem.
How can Pippa Campbell Health help you to regain your energy, sanity and healthy weight?
Diagnosis is not always a quick and easy process and involves a combination of blood testing, symptom analysis and one-to-one consultation with each client.
Standard GP blood tests often only show analysis of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), but to see the bigger picture we often need other markers too, such as Free Thyroxine and T3. Patients don’t always receive a written copy of their results and instead told they’re ‘fine’ and are then left in the dark. In addition, the UK has a broader range of acceptable thyroid levels than other countries which means more people slip through the net undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed, and end up feeling fed up, exhausted, frustrated or ignored.
My clients always have the option to undertake blood tests, however, symptoms alone are sometimes enough to recommend a thyroid-boosting nutrition plan.
Boost your thyroid with the three month Metabolic Balance nutrition plan
This hormone-balancing plan is created from your unique blood tests and can be used for those specifically wanting to target the thyroid. Even clients who are taking thyroid medication find they can reduce or even come off of thyroid medication by following this programme. (Note: Stopping thyroid medication should be only undertaken in consultation with your GP.)
Case study: Jenny, 52
When Jenny first came to see me she was suffering with obvious hormone imbalance: hot flushes, tiredness and inability to lose weight despite almost starving herself. Jenny had already been medically diagnosed with an underachieve thyroid and was taking 200mg Thyroxine daily. By the end of the three month programme, Jenny was feeling well, had more energy and had lost the two stone she wanted to lose. In addition, she no longer needed thyroid medication.
Case study: Sarah, 41
Sarah was a mum of three, including a one year old baby. She was exhausted and anxious and could not shift the baby weight. I suspected Sarah had an underachieve thyroid. She was losing the outer third of her eyebrows, had a puffy neck and complained of ‘bad circulation’. I did a full health analysis on Sarah and ordered some blood tests. We quickly established that Sarah did in fact have hypothyroidism and we began dietary changes and natural supplements to support the thyroid. She started to feel better within two weeks.
If you’re suffering from many of the symptoms I’ve discussed in this article, you can find out more about my three month 1-1 Metabolic Balance programme here.
How can I begin to restore my thyroid health through diet?
While investing in professional nutritional help will supercharge your results, there are also many things you can begin to do today to boost your thyroid and achieve a better balance of hormone health.
They key strategy is to calm down the immune system and remove inflammatory foods and stressful lifestyle factors. Plus, it’s important to reduce the toxic load on the body and add in healing foods.
(Remember that balancing health is not about only ‘removing’ foods, it’s also about replenishing and nourishing the body with positive ingredients and lifestyle choices - such as meditation or breathing exercises.)
Add in these foods to help boost your thyroid function:
Cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cabbage) - these are rich in nutrients to support liver detox and conversion of T4 to T3 but eat them cooked not raw.
Brazil nuts - add two to four brazil nuts a day to boost levels of selenium.
Flaxseeds - add flaxseed to your porridge, salads or in homemade bean burgers to aid constipation.
Turmeric - add a teaspoon of ground turmeric a day into your soup, stew, tomato sauce or even in your smoothie (start with a small amount as the flavour is quite strong). If you find fresh root turmeric, add a little grated turmeric to salads and cooked dishes or juice with lemon and ginger for a powerful immune boost. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory.
Vitamin D - Particularly useful during the winter months when exposure to sunlight is minimal. Dosage will vary according to individual needs.
Reduce or remove these foods and lifestyle factors to boost thyroid and hormone health:
Sugar - especially white, refined sugar and sugary snacks such as cookies, sweets, chocolate and alcohol.
Toxins - there are literally thousands of toxins in our modern world - from household cleaners to produce pesticides - so it’s almost impossible to remove everything (and that would be stressful!). So start by switching to organic produce, reduce alcohol, smoking and sugar intake, swap your regular household products and toiletries to more natural, eco-friendly versions and reduce exposure to harmful gases, chemicals and radiation. Try my 5 Day Detox plan <link>
Stress - from crazy corporate life to work deadlines, school traffic to unhealthy relationships, financial worries to caring for sick relatives - there are so many things that contribute to our personal levels of stress. Take time to focus on the really important things and use calming techniques such as NLP, hypnotherapy, yoga, breathing, meditation or simply take a walk in nature or sit by the sea.
Birth control pills - Due to their synthetic make-up, these may add an extra burden on the thyroid gland.
Get tested for deficiencies and imbalances. <link> Find out more about the tests I can offer you at Pippa Campbell Health.
Still unsure if your symptoms are thyroid related?
Check out this list for more potential hypothyroid signs and symptoms:
Difficulty losing weight especially over lifetime
Nervous, emotional, can’t work under pressure
Low blood pressure, low pulse
Or high blood pressure, fast pulse
Cracked skin on heels
Excessive hair loss and / or coarse hair
Intolerance to high temperatures (cold or hot)
Sensitive to cold, poor circulation (cold hands and feet)
Mentally sluggish, reduced initiative
Poor concentration & memory
Easily fatigued, sleepy during the day, lethargy
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Slow body movement
Morning headaches, wear off during the day
Loss of lateral 1/3 of eyebrow
Large tongue, serrated
Water retention including swollen eyelids
Tendency to depression
Insomnia Type II (waking in the early hours)
Reduced sex drive
Cystic ovaries & / or breasts
Hoarse or gravelly voice / lump in throat
Coronary Artery Disease
Dysmenorrhoea (painful periods)
Aches & pains, general
Family history of thyroid problems